Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services at Dublin Port Company talks of Dublin Port’s growing credentials as a cruise destination.
How is ongoing redevelopment at Dublin Port working to enhance cruise ship facilities?
The Alexandra Basin Redevelopment is the first of a number of projects included in the Dublin Port Company Masterplan. This €230 million development will provide new longer and deeper berths for shipping to allow larger, longer ships to routinely call at the port and turn within the expanded Alexandra Basin and berth further upriver. The new berths and their proximity to the heart of our capital city make Dublin a very attractive option for Cruise companies and their passengers. Furthermore, Dublin Port’s proximity to Dublin airport, providing for just a 15 minute uninterrupted transfer time, means Dublin is well placed to become an attractive turnaround port.
How do you assess Dublin Port’s ongoing performance in meeting its objectives to attract more cruise ships to Dublin, offer an enhanced visitor experience to passengers and contribute to the economy of Dublin city and environs?
Dublin Port Company recognises the benefits of cruise tourism to the City with an estimated €15 million being spent by cruise passengers in the local attractions, retailers and restaurants. The decision by Celebrity Cruises to base the Celebrity Eclipse in Dublin for a mini season in 2018 means that passengers will spend some time in the city either side of their cruise, thereby increasing this value even further.
“Dublin is routinely featured in the top city destinations to visit”
Dublin is routinely featured in the top city destinations to visit and with cruise ships berthing within striking distance of world famous attractions, such as the Guinness Store House, Trinity College and The Book of Kells, to name but a few, this is a big positive for cruise passengers. The “Cruise Dublin” initiative by Dublin Port Company also aims to enhance the passenger experience by providing them with a VIP card offering discounts with some of Dublin’s Retailers.
Are efforts chiefly focused on positioning Dublin to the cruise industry as a turnaround port, or as a port of call?
Traditionally, Dublin has been a marquee port of call and calls have been increasing year on year, with approximately 145 calls scheduled for 2018. And, while we have been a turnaround port for some of the smaller vessels in the region for some years, we believe that the aforementioned Celebrity Turnarounds will mark the start of significant growth in this area.
With Ireland remaining in the EU, do you anticipate Brexit will have a positive impact on cruise tourism in Ireland?
Brexit has led to uneasiness across the economy as a whole and until the terms of the agreement are finalised, a certain amount of uncertainty will remain. However, cruise tourism has proved to be particularly resilient to external economic factors in the past. While traditional cargo figures dropped significantly during the last recession, cruise calls to the port continued to rise. Industry reports suggest that the demographic of the cruise passengers is less susceptible to economic pressures. In fact, at the recent Seatrade Europe conference in Hamburg, cruise line executives confirmed that Brexit is having no bearing on bookings for 2018 and beyond.
“We expect the number of cruise vessels calling to Dublin in 2018 to increase by 20% on 2017.”
What do you consider the most noteworthy upcoming developments on the cruise front for Dublin Port in 2018?
We expect the number of cruise vessels calling to Dublin in 2018 to increase by 20% on 2017, injecting an additional €2.8 million into the local economy. In addition to this, the Celebrity Eclipse mini season in Dublin is the dawn of a new era for cruise tourism in the capital. Reports are that the demand for these cruises is high and Celebrity Cruises are already selling cruises for 2019, whilst also preparing itineraries for 2020 onwards.
With Dublin being a true city port, steeped in history and culture and with its vibrant and cosmopolitan nature, it has always been a popular cruise destination. With the demand-driven nature of the industry, we expect that other cruise companies will follow suit and look to Dublin as a real and viable home porting option.